We're concluding our study today of some "guarantees" that Peter laid out....results we can expect if we follow his instructions and "add to our faith" as he told us to do. We've seen that we are guaranteed that we'll be fruitful if we keep on adding "in increasing measure" the traits of virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and love. We've also noted that we'll be blessed with spiritual discernment, wisdom for the journey.
Today we will look at the end of verse 9, and then verses 10 and 11:
"....forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins." Let's do the same thing we did yesterday -- I think it makes it clearer! Let's turn from the negative to the positive..... "not forgetting" that we've been cleansed from our past sins.
Which one of us can raise our hand and say, "I've never, ever doubted for a moment my salvation."
Now, how long have you had this problem with telling the truth? (Grin)
I don't think any of us can say that we have never, ever had doubts about our salvation; I'm betting that we all have doubted from time to time. Or perhaps we've thought about and dwelt on past sins that are still seared into our memories. Things that send a chill up our spine. That make us cringe. That make us think, "how can I face my Savior in heaven, having done/said that?"
That's perfectly normal.
The important thing is to not let our thoughts incapacitate us. If these thoughts are allowed to become fears, and then allowed to overwhelm us, we may be so overcome that we're no use to the Lord. We are then unable to focus on the tasks that He gives us, because we are dwelling on these past issues.
And boy, let me tell you, that makes the devil happy-dance!
But Peter says that we can have assurance of our salvation. We can rest assured that our sins are way back in the rear-view mirror....
Verse 10 says that this godly life, this spiritual growth can keep us from falling. If we keep adding these things in our Christian growth, Peter says we are guaranteed not to fall. Whoaaaaaa.
You sure about that, Peter?
Every single one of us has fallen from time to time. Peter, you did, too.
Here's what I think Peter is trying to show us -- and from his own life, too. The Christian who is continually growing walks with confidence because she knows she is secure in Christ. It's not her profession of faith that produces that confidence -- after all, that is how Peter stumbled that night before the fire. He had professed faith, but he'd not grown enough to deal with the temptations that the devil presented that night! It's our progression in our faith that gives us that assurance. If we claim to be Christians, but our character and our conduct show no evidence of spiritual growth, then we are deceiving ourselves. We may have professed faith, but we need to ask the Holy Spirit to work with us (and show us in the Bible) to determine where the gaps are in our growth. We need to add those "vitamins" that we talked about last week!
Some scholars have interjected that by "falling" Peter is pointing to "falling away," or backsliding. That people who exhibit spiritual growth will not easily fall due to false teaching, nor will they easily give up their relationship and slip into a backslidden condition. I find those good points, as well.
I don't want to venture too far into the weeds, but I do want us to look at the words that Peter used in this passage: Peter pointed out that "calling" and "election" go together. Calling means to be a Christian, and election means chosen by God to live His way. The same God who elects His people also ordains the means (the Spirit) to call them. When we talk to unbelievers about our Savior we are telling them the Gospel -- God uses that Gospel to call them to repentance, and then they discover that they were chosen by the God Who loves them!
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)Peter is talking about true security here. And he exhorts us to "be diligent." The word he uses means to make every effort. While it's true that God must work in us before we can do His will, it's also true that we must be willing for Him to work, and that we must invest in the process as well. A dedication to daily Bible study and prayer is the way we show that.
The Christian who is sure of her election and calling will not stumble and wallow in the mire, but will prove by a consistent life that she is truly a child of God. She will not always be on the mountaintop (and she may feel her feet slip momentarily) but she will always be climbing higher. If we do the things Peter has detailed here; if we display spiritual growth and Christian character in our daily lives, then we can be sure we are saved -- we can be sure that we are changed, and will one day see Him in heaven!
In fact, the growing Christian can look forward to "an abundant entrance" into heaven....the words Peter used were also used by the Greeks to describe the welcome given to Olympic winners when they returned home.
Our Christian lives begin with faith, but that faith must lead to spiritual growth. Growth leads to practical results: people who have this kind of faith are not likely to fall to false teachings, and they will show fruitfulness and discernment in their lives and service to Christ.
This passage in II Peter assures us that we've been given all that we need to live as a Christian in our world today. Are we going to use those gifts to live God's way?